Arielle’s Story

Site created on September 4, 2020

This is the journal for my Medical Journey though Breast Cancer. We will be using this platform to keep friends and family updated. We are not using this for fundraising; if you choose to donate please know it is going to the nonprofit that runs this website. We appreciate your support, words of encouragement, cat tales, and funny jokes.

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Newest Update

Journal entry by Arielle Stratton

Months have passed & yet... you didn't miss much.

The chemo drugs Adriamycin and Cytoxan (AC) that I started with were the absolute WORST. 8 weeks of feeling like I had a tequila/champagne/red wine/no dinner hangover that did not let up for at least 6 days straight. I genuinely felt like I might die in my sleep; my body & soul were so tired of feeling like shit. Then I'd wake up on day 7/8 & feel a little better for a few days. Good enough to walk around the block, shakily sip a beer, see friends, gain weight back, go to bed without crying... then I'd do it all again. Over & Over.

If you texted/called me during that time and I seemed off like I was losing it... I was.

But I got through it.

The second course of chemo drugs (Taxol) have thankfully proved to be much easier for my body to tolerate. I've gone every Monday for the last 13 weeks and it's gotten progressively easier as the first drug (AC) has fully left my system. I do still feel crappy & have some nausea/migraines, but for the most part I just have no energy and throbbing foot pain that makes walking difficult for a few days. I wear frozen ice pack gloves & socks during the infusion to help constrict the blood vessels in the extremities to hopefully minimize nerve damage, but it doesn't seem to work as well on my feet as it has on my hands. I have 3 more infusions and I am done with Chemo on 2/1.

It can not come soon enough.

Next will be my bilateral mastectomy, which should be in the beginning of March if all else stays on track. I am opting to remove both breasts because some things are just supposed to match. Then (maybe) radiation therapy... then reconstruction surgery. The timeline on those things are a little TBD based on how much the cancer cells have spread/retracted from the lymph nodes under my arm, which we won't know till the mastectomy surgery.

I do not personally have any emotional hang ups about the surgery. I neither identify with the women who see it as something that "tried to kill them" nor do I feel like my breasts are essential to my sexual identity. They are just a hurdle keeping me from living my life as carefree and happy as I'd like to be and I am eager to move on. It's just fat & flesh and I'd say goodbye to it tomorrow if I could.

If my math is correct I am somewhere between half way & a third through this lonely so-not-fucking-fun journey and I'd like to say thank you to those who have been there for me and Rich along the way. Our somewhat newly formed support circle has given me the love, laughter & much needed illusions of normalcy that have fueled me through the rough bits. I am so grateful for the friends who have stepped up & feel delightfully lighter thinking about those who have disappeared. It's definitely been the most unexpected bittersweet part of this experience, but I am all for quality control and being surprised by the goodness of people.

I am constantly turning to Rich saying, "MAN those are good people! I am so happy we know them."

Don't mind me; I'm basically just a walking (adult coloring book) gratitude journal.

Funny how cancer makes you a brand new fucking person....

Physically, Mentally, & Emotionally. 

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